Diary, Essays or Novel? [A Review]

My Name Is Lucy Barton, by Elizabeth Strout


   [Image courtesy of bookdepository.com]


This is one of those books that leave me with a “hmmm…”.

At times, I felt like I was reading a Japanese novel because of the tone. Other times, I thought I was reading someone’s diary. And then there were times when I was sure I was reading an essay on life.

You guessed it – I can’t quite make out this book’s writing style. The chapters don’t look exactly like chapters, and some seem like sudden revelations from the protagonist that simply had to be recorded, because they were only a couple of paragraphs long, not that chapters cannot be a couple of paragraphs long.

And yet, I can’t say I didn’t enjoy the book. It’s highly readable, conversational at times, and really good at making me pause between paragraphs to think about the one that I had just read. Because it’s about the relationship between a mother and daughter, I can’t help thinking about my own relationship with my mother and daughter too.

I might have to reread this one some other time.

VERDICT: Try this book if you’re looking for something different to spend a few hours with, and especially if you’re the mother of a daughter.

For those who want to know a little about the story line, here’s an overview from bookdepository.com:

An exquisite story of mothers and daughters from the Pulitzer prize-winning author of Olive Kitteridge Lucy Barton is recovering slowly from what should have been a simple operation. Her mother, to whom she hasn’t spoken for many years, comes to see her. Her unexpected visit forces Lucy to confront the tension and longing that have informed every aspect of her life: her impoverished childhood in Amgash, Illinois, her escape to New York and her desire to become a writer, her faltering marriage, her love for her two daughters. Knitting this powerful narrative together is the brilliant storytelling voice of Lucy herself: keenly observant, deeply human, and truly unforgettable. In My Name Is Lucy Barton, one of America’s finest writers shows how a simple hospital visit illuminates the most tender relationship of all-the one between mother and daughter.


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